As seen on Inc.com
Let’s face it: many Americans are not a fan of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. In many cases, voters favor the candidate they feel is less horrible—especially as Election Day nears. With all the mud-slinging and controversies that have come to light this campaign season, you might have missed one of the smartest marketing approaches in the election cycle.
Even if you are disgusted with your choices (and I appreciate that not everyone is), would you consider voting for a third-party candidate? You might say that’s just like giving a vote to whichever candidate you like the least.
So, I was surprised when I saw a recent AlternativePAC video show up in my Facebook feed.
AlternativePAC endorses Gary Johnson, a third-party candidate from the Libertarian party—and no, this isn’t an endorsement of him or any other candidate.
I routinely ignore slightly less than 107 percent of what comes into my Facebook feed. Why did I pay attention to this one?
It wasn’t because of its politics. It was because it represented a masterclass in marketing.
A Novel Approach
The video, which is embedded at the bottom of this post, starts by explaining a common situation. If you think that Hillary Clinton is corrupt and Donald Trump is unstable or nuts, you might consider a third-party candidate.
Then, it introduces a problem with that situation. You are probably reluctant to vote for a third-party candidate since you feel it will give the other candidate a net-positive vote.
Finally, it introduces a potential solution: Johnson’s “Balanced Rebellion” website. If you detest Hillary more than you loathe Donald, you’ll be paired with a voter from your state with the opposite views. This way, you can both vote for a third-party candidate—in this case, Johnson—without giving a vote to the other candidate.
Yep—It’s a real website.
Can the system be gamed? Yes.
Are there numerous flaws in their arguments? Probably.
The message I want you to see is not about politics, but about marketing. Here is why the video is growing in popularity and has captured the attention of many.
The video selects its audience very purposefully.
The first part of the video shares the negative impressions many voters have of the two candidates. This means they’re intentionally excluding anyone who genuinely likes Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
They know that the people who are strongly in favor of Clinton or Trump will not be swayed. But, those who share discontent with both candidates are the right target audience. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, they focus on their ideal customer.
This is a major lesson for marketers. Do not strive to appeal to everyone. Rather, seek to exclude the people who are not your ideal audience. Doing so will help you build a stronger connection to the right audience.
Third Party References
The video shares research that shows that 65 percent of voters would gladly support any viable candidate other than the current choices from the two major parties. (The stat allegedly comes from a research firm called Data Targeting; I couldn’t find the actual survey data to verify it.)
This encourages the viewer to think, “Hey, that’s just like me.” By sharing that 65 percent of voters think that way, you might believe that the third-party candidate has a chance. You also feel like you are part of the majority if you share their viewpoint.
Is the statistic skewed or manipulated? Probably. But, we’re focusing on marketing that works, not the accuracy of a political statement.
Start With Problems
Instead of ignoring the major obstacle voters might have with a third-party candidate, the video directly addresses them:
- The idea that you cannot get on the ballot in all 50 states.
- That a vote for a third-party candidate would be a wasted vote.
Then the video answers both questions. It expresses that its candidate is on the ballot in all 50 states, and it gives a plausible way to protect your vote from supporting your least favorite candidate. (Remember, this isn’t about politics—it’s about marketing.)
Most businesses stick their head in the sand to avoid confronting the objections customers might have in doing business with them. By describing the major hurdles up front, the audience can see that you are aware of the hurdles and have solutions.
Put These Concepts To Work
You can learn plenty from this clever marketing approach. Follow these simple steps:
- Brainstorm why people would not be comfortable with your product or service.
- Identify who is and is not your ideal audience.
- Message to your ideal audience, even if it would repel others.
- Use third party references to help the audience identify with your offer.
- Embrace rather than hide from objections or problems.
It’s Your Turn
Ignore the politics. What lessons (good and bad) do you take away from this marketing approach? Share your respectful observations in the comments or on Twitter and LinkedIn.